The U.S. House of Representatives is planning a floor vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, legislation that would federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. The legislation changes how cannabis is classified.
Passing the legalization bill would set a precedent moving forward that will ultimately help lead to the legalization of adult-use cannabis.
As outlined in the bill, these are:
· The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring and substance use treatment
· The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
· The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs
Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the MORE Act has picked up 78 co-sponsors in the House as of July 31 and cleared the House Judiciary Committee in November 2019.
While we are optimistic that the MORE Act will pass the full House, the future in the Senate is less certain. If the bill falters in the Senate, a full House vote on the legislation still signifies a monumental step forward for the industry.
“It recognizes [that] the history of cannabis prohibition is steeped in policies that have disproportionately targeted black and brown communities, and it’s been my sense over the last few months that interest for the legislation has only increased, especially with the recent protests and police reform legislation,” Martin says. “This legislation emphasizes that this kind of reform is essential to fight this inequity.”
The MORE Act is more sweeping in some ways than other recent cannabis reform legislation, such as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act. That bill, which would protect states’ rights to enact their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference, has been pending in both chambers of Congress since it was first introduced in June 2018.
By completely de-scheduling cannabis at the federal level, the MORE Act would have broader implications, such as opening up interstate commerce The legislation also would remove many of the current restrictions on research, banking and taxation, which are all tied to the fact that cannabis is currently prohibited at the federal level.
Potential challenges to high-cost operators likely.
From our G-101 algorithm, multiple state operators would be a disadvantage since more people will be growing, processing, and dispensing cannabis. Existing licensees will see contracting values because they will face major competition from low-cost operators.